Subject: Management Communication
First National Bank (FNB) is one of the ‘Big Four’ banks of South Africa along with Absa, Nedbank and Standard Chartered (Buhlungu, Daniel & Southall, 2007). With the growing number of social media users in South Africa, FNB’s digital team identified it as an area where they can extend its dominant digital footprint over the competitors. Such social media strategy was also adopted for the purpose of handling issues associated with internal communication, customer service, public relations and corporate social responsibility.
The social media strategy was aimed to build sustainable relationships with the respective customers in order to connect further with them in an approachable, likable and trustworthy manner. FNB started utilizing the social media platforms from the year 2004 for the purpose of increasing customer engagement. The mobile banking product, eWallet, introduced by FNB was made popular with the help of Facebook game as earlier people did not possess proper understanding about how to use the product (Finextra, 2012). Therefore, the game was designed for meeting the two basic objectives i.e. creating awareness in the market regarding the benefits of the product and educating the customers regarding the working of the product. FNB obtained financial benefits through the strategy as it encouraged the customers to gain confidence in the products offered by FNB. Moreover, the game also positively contributed in the increasing of 1,00,000 more fans on the Facebook page of FNB (Brand South Africa, 2012.). Also, the use of Twitter has helped FNB in responding towards the problems and queries of the customers in an effective and efficient manner. Twitter acted as a tool for customer relationship management which effectively contributed towards the provision of improved brand experience to the customers with the help of virtual interaction. Social media platform such as LinkedIn was also included in the strategy for the purpose of engaging professional communication and to support the brand.
The adoption of social media strategy resulted in various benefits for FNB. FNB, through its social media strategy, has made its customers a part of the brand family by the way of extension of its brand and culture thereby contributing towards the growth and success of the brand. A viral effect created on social media helped in better understanding of the needs, demands and interests of the customers through the deep analysis of their social behaviors. Moreover, this also assisted FNB in formulation of suitable approaches for the fulfillment of needs of the customers. The customers experienced ease in putting forward their complaints, grievances and questions and responded and therefore provided higher responses to the status updated of FNB. The benefits also include the provision of education to the customers regarding the use of eWallet which made the investment in social media an effective strategy. FNB also derived benefits in terms of humanizing the brand with the RB Jacobs character. FNB opted for different approaches for different social media platforms as the type of users in different platforms (Arendse, 2012).
The development and implementation of a social media strategy can be learned from FNB in the form of lessons. The lessons include the retention of investment in the brand building activities. The social media crises can be effectively dealt with the help of a response plan and therefore, their requirement must be analyzed on time. Moreover, steps must be taken to stay competitive in the global market as various new organizations are entering the market. This could be done with the help of maintaining a strong presence in the digital world. Also, the strategy of FNB helps in learning a lesson that technological changes and innovation are constant in the developing world which gives rise to the challenge of digital disruption in from of the industries (Visible Banking, 2013). The emergence of the strong and competitive market players such as Capitec Bank and African Bank has resulted in the risk for the present market share for FNB. The success of FNB becomes a very good example as its high market share is the result of its first mover advantage as an innovative company.
For the purpose of improving the experience of the customers and maintaining effective communication with them through social media, a variety of factors needs to be considered by an organization. The feedback of the customers must be carefully analyzed by the team handling the social media accounts of an organization. This analysis includes providing responses to the customers regarding their queries and grievances on time (Moore, 2015). Moreover, not only positive, but negative feedback must also be given equal consideration and steps must be taken with the view to reduce that negative factor upsetting the customers. Moreover, the technical and account specific questions must also be handled on time without causing any unnecessary delays in the matter. Also, proper consideration should be made with regard to the cases where a long chain of replies are being required or where the requirement of obtainment of sensitive data from the customer arises (Schiff, 2015). In such cases, it becomes appropriate to take the conversation offline such that the privacy of the customers is not unnecessarily harmed. The behavior of customers on the social media can be analyzed and the relevant data can be sort to identify the trends and opportunities which can help an organization in introducing new products, services or features to meet the demands of the customers. The most important factor also includes making the customers feel valued by the organization by treating them in an appropriate manner (Social Zoom Factor, 2018).
Therefore, it can be concluded that the social media strategy adopted by FNB has significantly contributed towards its competitiveness in the market. The strategy also enabled FNB to have better communication with its customers along with leading towards an improved brand image and greater transparency. It has brought a considerable change in the manner the stakeholders and companies make their daily communication by the way of proposing a number of prospects for partnership, interactivity, commitment and involvement
Arendse. 2012. FNB talks social media, [Online]. Available at: https://v2.itweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55877 [Accessed on: 7 January 2018].
Brand South Africa. 2012. FNB takes banking to Facebook, [Online]. Available at: https://www.brandsouthafrica.com/investments-immigration/business/trends/newbusiness/fnb-190712 [Accessed on: 7 January 2018].
Buhlungu, S., Daniel, J. and Southall, R. 2007. State of the Nation: South Africa 2007. HSRC Press.
Finextra. 2012. FNB launches banking via Facebook, [Online]. Available at: https://www.finextra.com/newsarticle/23916/fnb-launches-banking-via-facebook [Accessed on: 7 January 2018].
Moore, P. 2015. 10 Ways to Use Social Media to Improve Customer Experience and Satisfaction, [Online]. Available at: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/10-ways-use-social-media-improve-customer-experience-and-satisfaction [Accessed on: 7 January 2018].
Schiff, J. L. 2015. 7 ways social media can improve customer satisfaction, [Online]. Available at: https://www.cio.com/article/2984024/social-networking/7-ways-social-media-can-improve-customer-satisfaction.html [Accessed on: 7 January 2018].
Social Zoom Factor. 2018. 10 Ways To Improve Customer Experience With Social Media, [Online]. Available at: https://socialzoomfactor.com/10-ways-to-improve-customer-experience-with-social-media/ [Accessed on: 7 January 2018].
Visible Banking. 2013. 8 Questions To FNB’s CEO On Social Media Banking, Mobile Payments, Twitter, [Online]. Available at: https://www.visiblebanking.com/8-questions-fnb-ceo-social-media-banking-mobile-payments-twitter-7511/ [Accessed on: 7 January 2018].
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